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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > PART III CHAPTER 22
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 Aurelius, physician of Gilderoy, flourished on the fatness of a fortunate reputation. He was a soul, clean and pleasant, with a neatly-trimmed beard, and a brow that seemed to a very various and abundant wisdom. He combined a humour and an enlivening presence with the solemnity necessary to his profession.  
As for the ladies of Gilderoy, they Master Aurelius with a that became perhaps less the more one considered the character of the . Aurelius was an Æsculap in court clothing. He was ignorant, but as no one realised the fact, the soul of Hippocrates would have been wasted in his body. was his crowning . He was so , so intelligent, so full of a simple understanding for the ways of women, that the creatures could not love him enough. The confidences granted to a priest were nothing compared to the truths that were unmasked to his tactful . The physician is the priest of the body, a privileged person, suffered to enter the bed- before the solemn of the toilet have been performed. He sees many strange truths, fine and wonderful transfigurations, presides over the confessional of the flesh. And Aurelius never whispered of these mysteries; never displayed ; always discovered extraordinary for the inconsistencies, the most romantic failings. He carried a sweet and sympathetic air of about with him, like a perfume that a most comfortable odour of religion. His salves were to a degree, his unguents and remarkable productions. took his potions in lieu of Malmsey, his powders in place of sweetmeats. Never did a more pleasant, a more tactful old hypocrite to the failings of an unregenerate world.
Aurelius stood in his laboratory one June morning, balancing a money-bag in his pink palm. He seemed by some of thought, and wonderfully well pleased with his own good-humour. He smiled, locked the money-bag in a drawer that stood in a cupboard, and, taking his cap and walking-staff, repaired to the street. Pacing the narrow pavement like a veritable , as any peacock, yet from the superb self-satisfaction that roared in him like a furnace, he acknowledged the greetings of passers-by with the of a hand, a solemn movement of the head. It was well to seem unutterably serious when under the eyes of the mob. Only educated folk can properly understand in a sage.
In the Erminois, a stately highway that ran northwards from the cathedral, he halted before a whose windows were rich with scutcheons and proud blazonry. Aurelius with the rich. The atmosphere of the mean quarters was like a to him; he loved sunlight and high places where he might like a . He passed by a great into the inner court, and was admitted into the house with that ready that speaks of familiarity and respect.
Aurelius climbed the broad stairway, and sailed like a stately carrack into my lady's chamber. A in blue and silver greeted him from an oriel. The compounder of cosmetics bowed, disposed his staff and cap upon a table, and appropriated the chair the lady had assigned to him.
"Superb weather, madame."
"Too sultry, though I am a warm-souled person."
"True, madame, true, Gilderoy would be fresher if there were no mean folk to up the streets like weeds. The send up such an unpleasant stench upon the breeze, that it makes the cultured sense revolt from poverty."
The Lady Duessa's lips curled approvingly,
"Poverty, poverty, my dear Aurelius, is like a carcase, fit only for quicklime. If I had the rule of the place, I would make poverty a crime, and all our human into lazar quarters."
The man of physic nodded for sympathy.
"Exactly so, madame, but one would have to deal with the religious instinct."
"That would be simple enough," she simpered. "I should confine religion to shadows and twinkling , lights streaming in through enamelled upon solemn colours bowing before dreamy music; pardons and absolutions bought with a purse of gold. It is sad, Aurelius, but who doubts but that religion makes scavengers of us all? Away with your smug widows, your frouzy burgher saints, your yellow-skinned priest-hunters! I would rather have sin than vulgar ."
The man of herbs sighed like an organ pipe.
"Everything can be pardoned before coarseness," he said; "give me a dirty heart before a dirty face, provided the sinner be pretty. I trust that madame was satisfied with my endeavours, that the perfumes were such as she desired, the oil of Arabia pleasant and ?"
"Magical, my Æsculap. The oil makes the skin like velvet, and the drugs are paradisic and full of languors. Ah, woman, set the tray beside Master Aurelius' chair."
The man's eyes over the salver and the cup. He bowed to his hostess, , and pursed his lips over the wine.
"Madame knows how to warm the heart."
"Truth to you. Who have you been of late? What carcase have you been painting, you useful ?"
"Madame, my profession is ."
"I see your work everywhere. There is the little brown-faced thing who is to marry John of Brissac. Well, she needed art . Now the lady has a like apple-blossom."
The old man's eyes twinkled.
"Madame is pleased to jest," he said, "and to think her fancies--realities. Were all ladies as fresh as Madame Duessa, what, think you, would become of my delectable art, my sc............
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